It has almost been a week since the European elections took place. In Belgium these were combined with regional and federal elections on the same day. Results were the same for each Parliament we had to elect. An extreme right party won clearly (at least in Flanders, the French-speaking part of Belgium votes very differently). For the European Parliament their percentage even gained with 12 % compared to 2014, which is a lot. It’s not only in Belgium this march of extreme right happens, but also in other countries such as France and Italy.
Luckily for Europe, the pro-European parties are still a majority, but we can’t ignore the rise of those right parties. Apparently, a lot of people don’t feel represented by the political system anymore. All over Europe a lot of protests have been happening lately. Think about the widely spread actions of the climate movement and the ‘yellow vests’ ('gilets jaunes' in French) who protest against the high cost of living and taxes. Apart from that there are also a lot of local strikes and manifestations against policies and politicians themselves. A large group of people wants change and apparently people think something will change when they vote for an extreme party.
I personally think that’s not a good idea. Those parties often take advantage of situations where there’s dissatisfaction and make all kinds of promises they often can’t keep. It’s a fact that not one party (left, right or in the middle) can implement all goals they set in the anticipation of the elections but most of those goals are possible if they wouldn’t be held back by other parties. However, extreme parties are in my opinion setting some really impossible goals and by doing that, they lie to the voters.
Also, often electors vote for an extreme party because of one single point the party emphasizes. In Flanders for example the winning party stands for a migration stop and has pointed this out in a way like they ‘own the theme’. That way some electors might have believed that this party was the only one who cared about regulating migration, while other parties - even at the other side of the political spectrum - had some similar thoughts (of course less extreme). If people had been better informed, they might not have voted for this right-wing party. It’s sad to know that a lot of people only listen to the party that speaks the loudest, while I’ve learned that whoever speaks the loudest, mostly has the most unrealistic ideas.
Extreme parties also have opinions about other subjects, sometimes unreasonable and discriminatory. But I’m sure at least some voters weren’t aware because those points were laying in the shadow of one main theme. The thing is that an extreme party in most of the cases discriminates at least someone or a certain group of people. The party that has won in Flanders is clearly against people of color, although they don’t regularly say it that explicit, but it is how it is. They also give the impression that Caucasian males are superior to any other population group, which is incomprehensible in this 21st century (although there are a lot of incomprehensible things happening in the world lately). I feel disappointed that this big amount of people voted without really knowing who or what they were voting for.
Now, since a racist party won in Belgium there’s a discussion about whether they should have the right to govern or not. I personally think you should listen to what the people want. Although I do not agree with this party, a lot of people voted for it so it wouldn’t be correct to exclude the winning party. If they don’t, I’m afraid this party will even get more votes in the next elections. If they govern now without any good result, at least then people know they don’t need to vote for them again. I really hope this populistic mindset will fade away over the years, because that would also mean people find hope again and don’t see a need to vote extreme. But of course, that’s a task governments should fulfil and I really hope they use the next five years to do that.